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Sex-tape hoax puts Yacht in hot water

In an era of crass publicity stunts, L.A.-based electro-pop duo Yacht has somehow sank to a new low: the hoax sex tape.

Here’s the background: the group’s Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans, who are a romantic couple, wrote on Facebook Monday that a sex tape they had made privately had been stolen by a “morally abject person” who intended to distribute it widely. They claimed to have “commenced legal proceedings” for this “exploitation.”

Later, they added that they were taking “ownership” of the situation by selling the tape themselves for $ 5 on a freshly launched website. Celeb buddies including Miranda July and Islands’ Nick Thorburn helped buoy the ruse on Twitter (though the latter eventually seemed to regret it), but any fans who tried to download it only found an error message.

By Tuesday, the jig was up and the “sex tape” was finally posted to PornHub, featuring Bechtolt and Evans chortling together in a room before a sci-fi twist ending. Reportedly, the stunt was meant to promote Yacht’s forthcoming music video.

Instead, the scam inspired the sort of scorn and mockery that a real sex tape might have in a more technologically demure era.

“Playing the victim + exploiting your fans as a PR stunt isn’t some bold, cutting edge s—,” tweeted Bethany Cosentino of rock duo Best Coast. “It’s just a really s—tty a–hole thing to do.”

“Here’s a great way to prank the industry: consistently create to the best of your ability while preserving some basic amount of integrity,” agreed new wave band Wax Idols.

Even the band’s publicist distanced herself from the scheme, after she probably wanted to distance herself from her inbox.

As difficult as it is to imagine the promotional brainstorming session that resulted in “sex tape hoax,” let’s try. Evans has doubled as a science journalist who maintains the Universe blog and works as Vice’s “Futures Editor.”

In November, Evans bragged to Spin about the duo’s history of deceiving the media and intentionally spreading “all these weird lies” about the band. And the sex-tape hoax isn’t even a new phenomenon; Eva Longoria and Funny or Die pulled it off nine years ago, though their prank never involved any claims of grief.

It was expected that the duo’s explanation would involve some deeply pondered mumbo jumbo about media accountability, or the fact that salaciousness always trumps art in the news cycle, and their eventual statement Tuesday lived up to those expectations.

This stunt wasn’t a tasteless play on the sort of invasive nightmare that many people have had to endure, but in fact a “project” referencing “science fiction, the attention economy, clickbait journalism and celebrity sex tapes all at once.”

Evans and Bechtolt only expected “interest, skepticism and laughter,” but instead were surprised to learn that issuing a distressed and frantic claim of victimhood might actually provoke some concern.

Of course, this was largely the media’s fault.

“We didn’t anticipate the outpouring of genuine support, due partially to the credulity with which this story was so extensively and immediately reported,” reads the statement.

“This was not designed to make money or sell records, but to explore the intersection of privacy, media and celebrity … We will continue to work very hard to produce work that engages and responds to you.”

Well, one thing’s become clear: a sex tape isn’t the only way to show the world your backside.


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